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Even Pigs Need to Eat During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Las Vegas Livestock relied on scraps from Strip hotels. Now it’s finding new ways to feed its 4,000 pigs.

Kids walk around pigs
Pigs at Las Vegas Livestock
Las Vegas Livestock/Facebook

Las Vegas Livestock, the pig farm 30 miles north of the city, relied on food scraps from casinos and restaurants all over the city to feed its stock of 4,000 pigs. When Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated that all nonessential businesses, including restaurants, bars, and resorts, must close until April 16, Las Vegas Livestock’s main sources of food took a major hit with restaurants only allowed to offer takeout and delivery service and almost every restaurant on the Strip shutting down all operations. The tons of food arriving from Strip hotels and restaurants trickled to a halt, and owner Hank Combs realized he needed to slow down business and reduce his stock just to keep his livestock fed.

“As farmers we know it well, there are times of abundance and times of scarcity,” the company wrote on Facebook. “While we are not facing a drought or low harvest, we have found ourselves in an unprecedented time of scarcity.”

The fifth-generation farm feeds its pigs around 20 tons of pasteurized food that is wasted from the local area and surrounding states every day.

“The mandatory casino closures have undoubtedly hit our business hard. We have been forced to slow down, but agriculture cannot entirely be put on hold,” the farm wrote on Facebook.

Back in 2017, the farm estimated that each tourist visiting Las Vegas wastes about one pound of food per day. “It may not sound like a whole lot, but multiplied by the nearly 45 million tourists who pass through the city annually, all that refuse is the core of a solid business model,” Eater wrote at the time.

In all, Combs estimated his farm handled about 15 percent of buffet food waste in Las Vegas in 2017, with some hotels throwing out as much as eight tons of food a day.

Fox 5 reports the farm developed a new machine that can remove food from packaging, then boil and blend it before it’s fed to the remaining livestock. The new machine, developed before the coronavirus pandemic hit, opens up new ways pull sauces from packets and milk from jugs to feed the pigs, who eat five to seven times a day. The farm still receives food from California, Idaho, and Denver to feed its stock, but asks local restaurants, grocery stores, and others with leftover food to send it his way instead of throwing it out.

“Things happen fast, but as always, our focus remains providing quality care and feed for our animals,” the farm wrote on Facebook. “We will be cutting inventory in the coming months to compensate. Any food recycling opportunities are welcome.”

By mid-April, the farm estimates it will reduce the number of pigs from 4,000 to 2,000.

Farm scraping by to feed 4,000 pigs without Las Vegas Strip leftovers [Fox 5]

How a Family of Hog Farmers Manage the Excess of the World’s Most Indulgent City [Eater]

Governor Mandates All Resorts, Restaurants, and Bars in Nevada Must Close for 30 Days to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus [ELV]

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Las Vegas Food and Restaurants [ELV]